Smarter School Spending

Smarter School Spending - 1D - Communication Strategy

Components of a Communication Strategy

The communications strategy should encompass an overview of the budget process, stakeholder engagement, and an explanation of the decisions that resulted from the budget process. The recommended components include the following:

  • Process Overview:
    A district should describe how it develops its budget, including key dates and deadlines, how decisions will be made, and the process through which the public can provide input. A district should also communicate at the outset what principles and strategic priorities will guide the budget process
  • Stakeholder Engagement:
    A district should develop methods to solicit stakeholder input as part of the budget process. A stakeholder-engagement process should be designed with a clear understanding of the challenge or problem that stakeholder engagement is intended to help address.
  • Explanation of decisions.
    A district needs to clearly communicate the outcomes and the corresponding rationale and how they differ from the prior years

Implementation of a Communication Strategy

  • Identify the messenger(s).
    Responsibility for carrying out the communication strategy should be clearly identified. In addition to the traditional district leadership (board and superintendent), a district should enlist other credible communicators.
  • Identify the target audience and tailor messages accordingly.
    The strategy should identify target audiences to include teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and members of the community at large.

    Share information widely.
    Share the benefits, not just the pain.
    Budget simulation
    Use funding formulas.
    Create an executive leadership team.
    Engage influential outsiders
  • Select communication channels.
    Given the importance of the budget, priority should be placed on the methods that afford the broadest reach possible. This may include digital/web-based communication, mail, “backpack” mail, and meetings
  • Gather feedback and adjust
    Given that budget decisions involve trade-offs, some parties will not be happy with the outcome of decisions. It is imperative that attentive parties have a chance to provide feedback during and after the decision-making process.


  • Level 1: The District leadership is able articulate a compelling reason why the district is undertaking the smarter school spending journey, how the district is going to get to where it wants to go, and what people in the district are being asked to do. The district leadership has developed a few concise communication mediums to get the message out.
  • Level 2: Develop more comprehensive strategy to identify target audiences and tailor messages and use more diverse communications channels.
  • Level 3: Deliberately design participation/engagement methods to draw in a large cross-section of stakeholders.

Your Quick Wins

  • Quick Win: Develop an elevator speech
  • Why important? Succinctly able to articulate why pursuing new budget process is important
  • How does this help district control/own process? Provides confidence for district leaders in being able to articulate why this is being pursued on a broader basis.


Best Practice 1D - Identify Communication Strategy

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Case Studies - Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) - Elevator Speech

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